SERIES: World Series; White Sox lead 3-0.
The longest World Series game in history finally came to an end. One of baseball’s longest championship droughts may be about to as well.
In a pivotal Game 3 Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park, Chicago overcame a 4-0 deficit with five runs in the fifth inning off Astros starter Roy Oswalt.
After Jason Lane hit a tying double for Houston in the eighth off Dustin Hermanson, the teams played scoreless ball before former Astro Geoff Blum batted for the first time in a World Series with two outs in the 14th facing Ezequiel Astacio, Houston’s seventh pitcher.
With the park still nearly full, Blum drove a 2-0 pitch just over the right-field wall for a solo homer.
“It means the world right now, even more if we go in and close this out tomorrow. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. I’ve had about 100 of these at-bats in my backyard with my younger brother,” said Blum, who played for the Astros from 2002-03 before being traded to Tampa Bay for Brandon Backe— Houston’s Game 4 starter.
The White Sox tacked on another run, and Mark Buehrle, who pitched seven innings Sunday night in Game 2, came in to get the final out of a 7-5 win at 1:20 a.m. Central time.
“Down in the bullpen everything was working for me,” Buehrle said. “Pretty much in that situation, you got the Adrenalin going and if your arm is hurting or whatever, once you get on the mound. … I was pretty loose. I can throw 15 or 20 pitches and be ready to go.”
At 5 hours, 41 minutes, it was the longest game by time in Series history. It matched the longest by innings—a complete game by Babe Ruth for the Boston Red Sox against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1916.
“All three of these games—up and down,” Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “You think you’re going to lose, you think you’re going to win. It’s been incredible. It’s been a crazy Series.”
No team has ever overcome a 3-0 World Series deficit, and only one major league team has done it in any round of the postseason—Boston in last year’s AL championship series against the New York Yankees. The Red Sox went on to sweep St. Louis and win their first title since 1918.
After Lane’s tying double, the Astros had 10 baserunners—all without a hit — and left them all stranded. Houston left 15 men on base, including two each in the eighth through 11th innings.
“It’s some pretty poor hitting,” Astros manager Phil Garner said. “We had our chances, it’s amazing we were in the ballgame. We didn’t hit the ball good, but we managed to stay in the game. Very frustrated.
“This is embarrassing, the way it’s playing out.”
Freddy Garcia tries to complete the sweep for Chicago, opposed by Backe. Both of Garcia’s starts this postseason have come on the road, and he is 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA in those contests.
Garcia, signed by the Astros as a non-drafted free agent in 1993 and sent to Seattle in the trade-deadline deal that brought Randy Johnson to Houston in 1998, went 10-3 with a 3.40 ERA in 17 regular-season starts away from home.
Backe went 6-2 with a 3.41 ERA in 11 appearances at Minute Maid Park in the regular season compared to a 4-6 mark and 5.83 ERA in 15 games on the road.
“If you go to a different ballpark, I know it’s 60 feet, 6 inches from the rubber the plate, but the backgrounds are much different,” Backe said Saturday. “Some plates look like they’re closer than others. Some mounds are different than others. I really don’t know … there’s no excuse.”
HOW THEY GOT HERE: White Sox - AL Central champions; beat Boston Red Sox 3-0, division series; beat Los Angeles Angels 4-1, championship series. Astros - NL wild-card winners; beat Atlanta Braves 3-1, division series; beat St. Louis Cardinals 4-2, championship series.
PROJECTED LINEUPS: White Sox - LF Scott Podsednik (.290, 0 HRs, 25 RBIs, 59 SBs), 2B Tadahito Iguchi (.278, 15, 71), RF Jermaine Dye (.274, 31, 86), 1B Paul Konerko (.283, 40, 100, 98 runs), C Pierzynski (.257, 18, 56), CF Aaron Rowand (.270, 13, 69), 3B Joe Crede (.252, 22, 62), SS Juan Uribe (.252, 16, 71), Garcia (.000, 0, 0). Astros - 2B Craig Biggio (.264, 26, 69, 17 HBP), CF Willy Taveras (.291, 3, 29), LF Lance Berkman (.293, 24, 82, 91 walks), 3B Morgan Ensberg (.283, 36, 101), 1B Mike Lamb (.236, 12, 53), RF Lane (.267, 26, 78), C Brad Ausmus (.258, 3, 47); SS Adam Everett (.248, 11, 54), Backe (.222, 0, 6).
WHITE SOX PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER: Garcia (14-8, 3.87 ERA). Including his two postseason wins, the right-hander is 12-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 19 road starts this year.
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER: Backe (10-8, 4.76 ERA). This will be Backe’s first career start against the White Sox. He is 0-0 with a 4.15 ERA in three relief appearances against them.
STREAKS AND NOTES: White Sox - Only seven Chicago players have ever faced Backe, and they’ve combined to go 3-for-12 with a homer and two RBIs against the right-hander. … The White Sox used a Series-record nine pitchers in Game 3. … Chicago is trying to match the 1999 New York Yankees as the only teams to go through the postseason with just one loss since the extra round of playoffs was added in 1995. Astros - Lamb is 5-for-17 (.294) against Garcia. … RHP Roger Clemens, who left Saturday’s opener after two innings because of a left hamstring injury, remains “penciled in” to start Game 5 Thursday. … Ausmus is batting .083 (1-for-12) against Garcia.
POSTSEASON ROAD/HOME RECORDS: White Sox - 5-0 on the road. Astros - 4-2 at home.